‘Star Trek Beyond’ – Enjoyable journey back by way of original series

Chris Pine as Captain Kirk, Sofia Boutella as Jaylah, and the late Anton Yelchin as Chekov appear in a scene from director Justin Lin's "Star Trek Beyond." (AP)

Unity and strength travel into the unknown in “Star Trek Beyond,” director Justin Lin’s visually exciting third installment in the recent “Star Trek” series. Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto reprise their roles as Kirk and Spock, along with the late Anton Yelchin as Chekov. This time the Enterprise falls into a deadly trap during a rescue mission beyond the frontier.

Timothy Hogg

Timothy Hogg

On the five-year voyage to seek out new life and civilizations, the Starship Enterprise, under the command of Captain Kirk (Pine), and the crew including Spock (Quinto), Chekov (Yelchin), McCoy (Karl Urban), and Uhura (Zoe Salada), embarks on a distant rescue mission. But the Enterprise is soon attacked by Krall (Idris Elba), a ruthless alien warlord who is after an artifact carried by the starship. Stranded on a remote world, Kirk and his crew must join forces with the help of a shipwrecked alien, Jaylah (Sofia Boutella), to stop Krall and save the Federation from disaster.

From the opening scene, “Star Trek Beyond” follows the spirit of the original series, with numerous nods and references for the audience. The film presents viewers with breathtaking visuals and action that helps enhance a well-written, cohesive story. The plot seems to start in a more episodic format, journeying back to its roots, but events take a drastic turn once they reach a war-torn planet filled with beauty and danger. The writers are able to set up a rather innocuous series of events that rapidly test the strength and ingenuity of the characters.

The story is bolstered by strong performances from the cast, with admirable chemistry between all of the leads. The audience certainly gets to feel that the characters not only work together and are friends, but that they treat and consider one another as family. These friendships completely believable as presented, and they are tested in film, as the characters end up stranded on a planet with the opposite of who they are usually paired. This not only gives the characters a chance to grow and learn more about their own relationships, it also provides some much needed and well appreciated moments of comedic relief.

Injecting comedy helps propel the story forward, but it does also lead to the occasional moments where the narrative lags. Some may find it rather surprising that the film only has a two hour run time when it feels much longer; there are numerous moments that emphasize this rather slow pace. And although many of these scenes work to further the plot, they risk losing the attention of the audience. This strategy does eventually outweigh its perceived risks; occasionally the story may feel like it is a strange installment, but fans and viewers alike are sure to relish the experience as they are drawn into the world of the film.

Audiences who enjoyed the previous two “Star Trek” films will surely be enthralled by this new installment. Director Justin Lin’s “Star Trek Beyond” improves upon the earlier faults of the series by taking the focus back to the roots of exploration and the unknown. With humorous, well-acted performances, and an exciting plot that easily makes up for its occasional lull in pacing, this is a Star Trek experience to be enjoyed by all fans of the series.

My grade: 7.5 out of 10 stars.

(Timothy Hogg has a minor in film and media studies from Slippery Rock University. Readers may contact him by email at timothyhogg.thederrick@gmail.com.)